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The Ontario Court of Appeal recently examined whether participant experts and non-party experts could give opinion evidence without complying with Rule 53.03 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure. According to the court, Rule 53.03 does not apply where the expert has formed a relevant opinion based on personal observations or examinations relating to the subject matter of the litigation for a purpose other than the litigation.

In Parsons v Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that an Ontario Superior Court judge can preside at a hearing outside Ontario, provided that there is a video link back to an Ontario courtroom. By divided reasons the court upheld the decision of the motion judge that the court had the inherent jurisdiction to sit outside Ontario without violating the open court principle under Section 135 of the Courts of Justice Act.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently held that a foreign state seeking to set aside a default judgment against it should not be hindered by the State Immunity Act. The case provides useful insights to lawyers litigating disputes involving foreign states and the interpretation of the State Immunity Act, as well as those involved in appellate advocacy generally.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has released a decision which signals that judges ought to exercise their expanded summary judgment powers under the Rules of Civil Procedure where highly conflicting evidence in the written record makes a credibility assessment impossible. Although the court listed examples of the types of analysis that the motion judge was required to undertake, summary judgment will not require the same procedures in every case.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently held that certain record-keeping and disclosure requirements imposed on lawyers by anti-money laundering legislation offended the principle of fundamental justice, by effectively making lawyers "agents of the state". The court held that the provisions fell woefully short of protecting solicitor-client privilege.

In a recent case the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered applications from competing mortgagees to a property where the first charge had been discharged by fraud and subsequent mortgages were obtained. The court decided that although the subsequent mortgagees were innocent parties, unaware of the fraudulent discharge on the first mortgage, the first mortgagee was entitled to retain priority.

The minister of sustainable development, environment and parks recently introduced Bill 42, which, if passed into law, will create government regulatory powers that will deepen its control over greenhouse gas emissions through market mechanisms. Essentially, the bill will allow for the creation of a provincial cap-and-trade system, the details of which will be established by government regulation following the enactment of the law.

Ontario's deputy premier and minister of energy and infrastructure recently introduced Bill 150 for its first reading in the legislature. If passed, the bill would create a new standalone Green Energy Act 2009 and significantly amend or repeal 17 other statutes in order to set Ontario on course to a greener economy and a conservation culture.

The Quebec government plans to adopt a new regulation in order to collect information on the impact of water withdrawals and allow for better management of conflicting uses of water resources. Industries, businesses, municipalities and institutions will be required to communicate various data to the government on the water that they withdraw from the natural environment.

A new list of Canadian governmental incentives targeted specifically at businesses is now making it easier to be green. This update provides an overview of the environmental incentive programmes available to businesses located in Ontario, together with a description of the respective eligibility requirements.

Under British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act, the Ministry of Environment has the authority to issue contaminated sites approvals, notably certificates of compliance and approvals in principle of remediation plans. The newly created and independent Society of Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals of British Columbia now processes the vast majority of applications.

Canadian companies face an uncomfortable new reality with respect to cross-border pollution: even if they conduct no activities in the United States, the long arm of the US Environmental Protection Agency is applicable if their Canadian operations result in pollution south of the border.

Case Law Update

14/08/2003

Product liability is a specialized area of tort law that is evolving in response to new developments in business and consumer transactions and the recent introduction of class actions throughout Canada. This update discusses some of the highlights of recent Canadian product liability law with a particular focus on Ontario.